Mental Health & Wellness,  Parenting

Myths about ADHD

Misinformation and myths float around social media and online blogs related to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Instead of perpetuating these myths, it’s time we focus on proactive ways to help those who may struggle with ADHD.

First let’s consider what ADHD is: a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that impacts a person’s development or functioning. Now let’s look at some of the most common myths that perpetuate around the web:

Myth #1: ADHD is not real; it is simply a result of poor upbringing. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Prior to 2013 it was classified by experts as a behavioral disorder. However, recent research has shown that it is the result of differences in how the brain develops. It is more common in children as about 50% of the brain development differences will resolve by adulthood (roughly age 24). It also runs in families. It is common to see it happen in each generation in a family, because it is a biological issue. It is not a result of poor parenting.

Myth #2: ADHD can be corrected with more firm discipline. Again, due to the biological nature of the disorder, simply escalating discipline will fail to resolve ADHD. Rather, escalating discipline is likely to result in a child who shuts down and may consistently feel like a failure. Realistic expectations are necessary. Just as one would not expect a child who is deaf to hear, a child with ADHD should not be expected to just stop struggling with impulsivity or attention.

Myth #3: Medication is rarely necessary for those struggling with ADHD. Medication is the most effective treatment of ADHD. Because of its biological components, one cannot will their way out of ADHD. However, medication can stimulate the struggling brain connections needed to control impulses and improve focus. Experts have identified three mental-related disorders that almost always require medication because of their strong biological causes, and ADHD is one of them.

Myth #4: ADHD is overdiagnosed. ADHD did not exist as a diagnosis when many of us were young. I hear people say, “We didn’t have this when we were young, these kids are just being coddled!” The reality is that it did exist, it just wasn’t understood. Starting in the 1990’s, research began to identify common symptoms, and only recent research has really confirmed its tie to brain development. Approximately 5-7% of children and 2.5% of adults struggle with ADHD.

ADHD is nobody’s fault. It can’t be willed away or fixed with discipline. Rather, seeking the help of a qualified physician and counselor can provide treatment options that can help children and their parents know how to minimize the negative impact of ADHD.

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Also published in the Richfield Reaper.

If you have questions you would like me to confidentially address here, please email me at jonathan.swinton@usu.edu.

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